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CARFAX Finds: Ford Escape

Since its launch 15 years ago, the Ford Escape has consistently been a favorite compact SUV among Americans. The fact that there’s a Ford dealership almost everywhere and the wide variety of engines make the Escape an easy fit for those who need a good blend of practicality and ease of ownership.

But many buyers aren’t familiar with all of the derivatives of Escape made over the years. It wasn’t just V6, EcoBoost and first and second generation models. So today, we’re taking a look at the Escapes over the years and the Escapes of a different name.

Mercury Mariner

Of course Ford made a luxury version of their popular Escape SUV, it just happened to be in the form of the Mercury Mariner, from their now-defunct brand. Built from 2005 until Mercury’s bitter end in 2010, the Mariner is more upscale, but costs a bit less than an Escape of a similar age. For those who like to be different, this might not be a bad choice.

Starting from less than $10,000 for even a 2008-2010 facelifted model, Mariners supposedly had softer, more comfortable rides and more relaxed tuning compared to the Escape, but you’d be hard-pressed to tell them apart. The changes are mostly cosmetic, with that satin-finished grille and different plastics inside. But the fact it shares so much with the Escape is a good thing now that no new Mercury vehicles are being made.

Mazda Tribute

2009 Mazda Tribute
(Mazda North American Operations)

Few other than devoted Ford Motor Company fans will recall the Escape was developed from day one to be twinned with the Mazda Tribute. Fitting with its “Zoom-Zoom” advertising of the time, the Tribute was always pitched as the more sporting and aggressive compact SUV compared to the mainstream Escape. And even though it was built from 2000 until 2011, Mazda forgot to advertise it sometime after 2007. So used ones start around the $6,000 mark.

Early Tributes had different dashboards and styling details than the Escape that were whittled away as time went on. By today’s standards, the Tribute might not be a sporty SUV, either. But it does offer yet another different look than the Escape every parking enforcement officer drives.

Ford Escape Hybrid

Ford Escape Hybrid
(The Ford Motor Company)

Among the more rare finds is the Ford Escape Hybrid, which is likely a desirable choice for the efficiency minded who want all-wheel drive. Since the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is only a reality now, the full-hybrid Escape was actually way ahead of the curve when it was released in 2005. Demand is still relatively high, so expect to pay around $12,000 for an Escape Hybrid that wasn’t a taxi in a previous life.

While that sounds like a lot for a possibly 10-year-old non-luxury SUV, the Escape Hybrid is a great package for buyers who need that versatility without the bulk and expensive fuel bills. And it actually delivers mpg figures that are more like a compact sedan. It’s a shame it was discontinued after 2012.

Ford Escape Titanium

Ford Escape Titanium
(The Ford Motor Company)

Ford’s reason for ditching the hybrid in the latest Escape, introduced for 2013, was the EcoBoost line of turbocharged engines. But what the Escape is currently about is offering a premium feel and a sporty drive that’s actually above its class. In fact, the Escape Titanium with one of the EcoBoost engines make a convincing argument against compact luxury SUVs.

Starting from $20,000 as a two-year-old vehicle, the Escape Titanium is often loaded with features and advanced driver assistance technology. But its Ford Focus roots and turbocharged engine makes it sportier than many rival crossovers. It’s something that most don’t expect when they picture the old, boxy Escape. And because loaded Escape Titaniums are pricey when new, they make a more convincing case as lightly used vehicles.

There are a lot of Escapes out there, and I’ve just given you even more nameplates to think about. But when shopping for a used car, choice is a pretty good thing to have.

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